Open Theism? - I thought I'd seen it all

(George Brooks) #1

I have been reading an article about the controversy at Northwest Nazarene over the dismissal of Prof. Oord.

The author, Karl Giberson, writes:

“Oord, however, was controversial. He strongly supported evolution and had long been a target of creationists in the denomination. He embraced “open theism,” the view that God does not know the future but responds in love—rather than coercive control—to events as they occur, rather than foreordaining everything. Fundamentalist critics called him a heretic and had been vying for his termination for years.”

As much as I respect Oord’s pro-evolution stance, I’m more than a little surprised that he thought he could REMOVE God’s omniscience from his personal Biblical scenario and think it would make his arguments MORE persuasive.

@Jonathan_Burke, what are YOUR thoughts about Oord’s Open Theism?

(Below is the link to the original article from 2015)


Open Theism is less threatened by scripture than by science, IMO.

(George Brooks) #3


Really? You think SCIENCE is the one that threatens a position that God is less than divinely omniscient? I have no idea what you mean by that…


I’ll explain my music practice is over and I can do better than sneak a post in on my phone…

(Jon) #5

I don’t have any. I don’t know enough about his Open Theism to comment meaningfully. I don’t even know very much about Open Theism beyond the basic premise.


Open Theism says that God knows everything that can be known. God does not know my daughter. Does that mean that he is not omniscient? No, it means that I don’t have a daughter. Open Theism says that the future does not exist and so God does not know what does not exist. His ability to actualize his intentions is not about predestination and a fixed future; it is the ability to see all possible futures and enlist or invite mankind to participate with him in the creation of that future. That’s Open Theism.

I believe relativity contradicts that. There is no “single strand of time which is our experience.” I also believe that God is eternal and not limited to the time that we experience (although he has the ability to experience time as he chooses to “dwell in” our universe). Augustine agreed with modern physics when he speculated that God created time when he created matter. So God is not limited to time and the future is as accessible to him as the past. That’s why I reject Open Theism.

(George Brooks) #7


I believe the article said that Open Theism says God does NOT know everything…

(Christy Hemphill) #8


You might like this RHE interview with Greg Boyd. It explains a lot fairly succinctly and answers some interesting questions.

I grew up in and currently belong to a BGC church. We (as a denomination) fight about open theism a lot. :slight_smile:


“Open Theists further believe that this would imply that God does not know the future exhaustively. Proponents affirm that God is omniscient, but deny that this means that God knows everything that will happen.”

In other words, God knows everything that is knowable.

(George Brooks) #10


Okay… so when you use the phrase "God knows everything that is knowable… you should ALWAYS follow it with the phrase: “… and not everything is knowable!”.

Going back to the original comment about science … you think Science is going to PROVE that everything is knowable? I am skeptical of such a development.

And, in contrast, Romans 9 seems to be dead set against the underlying principle of Open Theism… which is that the human relationship with God is supposed to be “free and meaningful”… Romans 9 describes anything BUT that …



Are you even reading what I’m posting? How could you possibly infer that I was saying that based on the text that you read?

What I’m saying is that the future “is.” Not just that the future “will be.” If it “is,” and not just “will be,” then God knows the future. It’s not unknowable. Again, relativity says that time is…well, relative. My future is someone else’s past. My past is someone else’s future. So where does God “fit” on that timeline? He doesn’t have to. All of time, past and future, is available to him.

Hopefully that’s more clear.

(George Brooks) #12

@fmiddel… I wish it was more clear. That paragraph reminds me of some of the discussions I used to have with classmates in Philosophy 101. Sometimes I think people just make up terminology until they arrive where they want to arrive.

The irony is that Evangelicals treat God’s opening gambit with Adam & Eve in Eden as though he had no idea what was going to happen - - and then they fire Prof. Oord, in part, for suggesting that God is always like that.

Essentially you are describing god as Zeus or Jupiter … a powerful being … but not an all knowing one.

This is the opposite of my view. I see God as all knowing and caring … but quite limited in divine powers.



How can I make that more clear?

I’ve been explicit saying it and I’ve explained why I don’t buy it.

I mean…

…seriously?! :unamused:

(George Brooks) #14


Let’s just say you got me pretty confused when you said that Science was a bigger danger to Open Theism than the Bible…


You know, there are some pretty smart people that are Open Theists. I would challenge you to equivocally dismantle Open Theism using scripture alone.

(George Brooks) #16

Perhaps that shows the weakness of using the Bible for the foundation of one’s cosmic view? If you are going to make Yahweh into Zeus… I would say even Zeus would know what would happen if you told someone who knew NOT about “good and evil” not to do something.

Zeus would know that a human would DO exactly what he shouldn’t do…


I believe that in Open Theism God chooses not to know certain things.


Perhaps it’s actually better to have the conversation with a well-informed open theist lest you misrepresent their position due to a cursory examination of what they believe and a simplistic appraisal of the position’s weaknesses.


That is a good idea. One well-known open theist is John Polkinghorne, who is a member of the Royal Society,a former physicist, and an Anglican priest. Biologos has featured columns about him or his books from time to time. He doesn’t use the internet or email (he’s in his 80s!) so you can’t contact him directly. His books include
Questions of Truth: Fifty-one responses to Questions about God, Science, and Belief,
which he co-wrote with former student Nicholas Beale , and Theology in the Context of Science


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #20


It is clear that you are not a theologian. I think that it is time that you stop acting as if you are one.

If you want to know about theology, you need to read theology, not come on the web to ask people who are not theologians to explain to you what you don’t understand.

You are entitled to your opinion, but don’t condemn what you don’t understand.

Dr. Oord has written many excellent books. Please read some of them. You might learn something.